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  • This Week's AgTech Digest: IRRI's SpeedFlower Protocol, Cibus' Gene Editing Breakthroughs, PitchBook's Report On AgTech Stocks & More!

This Week's AgTech Digest: IRRI's SpeedFlower Protocol, Cibus' Gene Editing Breakthroughs, PitchBook's Report On AgTech Stocks & More!

Exploring Breakthroughs in Rice and Wheat Cultivation, Sustainable Crop Protection, and AgriBusiness Growth

Key Takeaways

  1. Innovations in Rice Cultivation: IRRI's SpeedFlower protocol could double rice yields.

  2. Advancements in Wheat Farming: Save Foods’ Nitrousink and Cibus' gene editing breakthroughs.

  3. New Biofungicide for Crop Protection: Certis Biologicals introduces Convergence.

  4. Growth in AgriBusiness: Loam Bio's expansion and Burro's Series B funding highlight growth.

  5. Sector-Wide Developments: UPL Ltd.'s acquisition and Serra Ventures' partnership in AgTech.

green plant on brown soil

The field of agricultural technology is witnessing significant advancements, with developments spanning various aspects of crop cultivation and management. Initiatives like the International Rice Research Institute's SpeedFlower protocol are set to enhance rice yields, offering a notable increase in productivity. In the domain of genetically modified crops, Yield10 Bioscience is making headway with its omega-3-producing Camelina varieties.

The wheat farming sector is also experiencing innovation, with Save Foods’ Nitrousink focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and Cibus Inc. advancing in gene editing techniques. Furthermore, the introduction of Certis Biologicals’ Convergence biofungicide represents a step forward in sustainable crop protection.

Let’s dive into the developments in AgTech this week!

Plant Science Updates

Rice Cultivation

Doubling Rice Yields through Innovative Speed Breeding

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has developed SpeedFlower, a revolutionary speed breeding protocol for rice that can double the number of crops per year from 2 to 4 or 5. SpeedFlower optimizes various factors to enhance rice growth and enables rice to flower in just 60 days, significantly accelerating the breeding process. This protocol is effective for various rice types and can reduce the typical 6–7-year breeding cycle to just 1.5–2 years, making it a game-changer in the field of rice production.

Yield10 Bioscience Files A Regulatory Status Review

Yield10 Bioscience has filed for a Regulatory Status Review with USDA-APHIS under the SECURE Rule for their elite Camelina varieties producing omega-3 oils. Collaborating with Rothamsted Institute, the company has made significant progress in developing and scaling up the production of omega-3 Camelina. The SECURE Rule published in 2020 enables more precise regulation of genetically engineered organisms, benefiting Yield10's initiatives to address the global demand for sustainable omega-3 oils.

Wheat Cultivation: Patents Filed & Breakthrough In Research

Save Foods’ Nitrousink Files Patent To Reduce N2O In Wheat Farming

Nitrousink Ltd., a subsidiary of Save Foods Inc., has recently filed a patent application for a solution that could help reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in wheat farming. N2O, also known as the "forgotten greenhouse gas", has been found to be 265 times more effective at warming the planet than carbon dioxide. Nitrousink has found a potential solution to this problem in the form of two bacterial species that can significantly reduce N2O emissions from wheat roots under various conditions. With Save Foods' majority stake in Nitrousink, the company is poised to enter the carbon credit market. This could be a lucrative move considering that the global wheat seed market is expected to grow from US$ 5.3 billion in 2023 to US$ 7.6 billion by 2032.

Cibus Announces Breakthrough in Wheat Cultivation

Cibus, Inc. has made a remarkable achievement in the field of agriculture by successfully regenerating plants from single cells in a wheat cultivar. This breakthrough is a significant step forward in gene editing and has paved the way for a scalable process in wheat, which is a major global crop and a crucial food staple. The development was achieved ahead of schedule and holds immense potential for accelerated trait development in wheat. Cibus aims to focus on developing traits that address significant challenges in wheat farming, particularly disease resistance and nitrogen use efficiency. The company's technology, the RTDS®-based High Throughput Breeding System, is a cornerstone in this advancement, allowing for precise, efficient, and rapid trait development. This breakthrough is a significant step forward in the agriculture industry, as it has the potential to revolutionize the way we cultivate wheat and produce food sustainably.

Crop Protection: New Biofungicide

Certis Biologicals’ Unveiling Convergence Biofungicide

Convergence™ by Certis Biologicals is a multifaceted biofungicide that offers a comprehensive solution for disease control and plant health. It is effective against a wide range of soilborne and foliar diseases, including Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, Phytophthora, tar spots, rusts, and leaf spots. This natural and sustainable solution utilizes Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747, promoting soil and plant health without harming beneficial insects. Convergence™ is convenient to apply and can be integrated into existing crop management practices with flexible in-furrow or foliar application. It has demonstrated proven efficacy in field trials, particularly in corn and soybeans, leading to increased crop yields.


Expansion: Australian Carbon Market Company Ventures in The US

Loam Bio’s Expansion into the U.S. Carbon Market

Loam Bio, an Australian company specializing in carbon market technologies, is launching its products in the U.S. One of the innovative products that the company is introducing is CarbonBuilder, which is a microbial technology designed to enhance stable soil carbon and enable farmers to participate in carbon markets. The introduction of CarbonBuilder is expected to offer financial benefits to farmers through Loam Bio's SecondCrop program, which offers higher returns from premium carbon credits. The goal of CarbonBuilder is to improve soil health and carbon storage, regardless of existing farming practices. This approach is designed to empower farmers in carbon credit markets, particularly targeting soybean farmers in the Corn Belt and upper Midwest, starting in 2024.

IPO: Expected SPAC

NRAC and Braiin Limited Set for Strategic Merger

Northern Revival Acquisition Corporation (NRAC) and Australian tech company Braiin Limited have filed a Registration Statement with the U.S. SEC for their proposed business combination. The amended business combination agreement has raised the company’s proforma enterprise value to approximately $572 million. Braiin’s strategy includes acquisitions and organic growth, as evidenced by its agreement with Vega Global Technologies to acquire Exato.ai and Nisus. Braiin’s CEO views the public market entry as a strategy for accessing capital for growth and enhancing product visibility and adoption. To ensure legal compliance, Winston & Strawn LLP and Loeb & Loeb LLP have been appointed as legal Counsel to Braiin and NRAC, respectively.

Funding Round: A Series B Funding & Investments

Burro’s Series B Funding Round

Philadelphia-based autonomous mobility company Burro has announced the successful closure of a $24 million Series B funding round, co-led by Catalyst Investors and Translink Capital, with participation from existing investors. As part of the funding round, Burro's board will welcome Brian Rich and Kaz Kikuchi. Burro's innovative collaborative outdoor robotics have revolutionized the agricultural sector, significantly enhancing workforce efficiency. The company aims to address the pressing issue of labor scarcity in agriculture by reshaping the future of outdoor work. With the fresh injection of funds, the company aims to fuel team expansion, dealer network growth, and the launch of Burro Grande, a new product.

Indigo Ag Appoints Dean Banks As CEO & Banks $270M

Indigo Ag has recently undergone some major changes. In February 2024, Dean Banks was appointed as the new CEO of Indigo Ag and CEO-Partner at Flagship Pioneering. Banks has a wealth of experience from Tyson Foods, Alphabet's X, and various leadership roles across diverse sectors. The company's Board of Directors has also expanded with the addition of Nader Bekhouche and Noubar Afeyan. In addition, Indigo Ag has successfully closed a financing round with a substantial raise of nearly $270 million. With a strategic focus on sustainable agriculture, Indigo Ag aims to enhance sustainable agricultural practices and profitability with its innovative platform.

M&G Investments Invests EUR 75 Million In Biobest

M&G Investments has invested EUR 75 million in Biobest, a leading company that offers tailored biological stimulants and pest control solutions to promote sustainable agriculture. Biobest has a wide range of services that meet strict environmental standards and serves over 13,000 clients in more than 70 countries. Biological control products, which is Biobest's specialty, is rapidly expanding due to environmental and health concerns associated with chemical pesticides. The investment will help fund Biobest's acquisition of Biotrop, a Brazilian biological solutions specialist, making Biobest a significant player in South America’s sustainable agriculture market. The investment aligns with M&G’s Catalyst strategy to invest in companies transitioning to positive and regenerative practices, further solidifying Biobest’s global leadership in sustainable agriculture.

Acquisition: Acquiring Corteva’s Fungicide Business

UPL Ltd. Latest News: Acquiring Corteva’s Mancozeb Business

UPL Ltd. plans to acquire Corteva Agriscience's solo mancozeb global fungicide business, granting UPL ownership of the original global mancozeb brand, Dithane®, and access to Rainshield™ technology which will enhance its crop protection capabilities. The acquisition strengthens UPL's leadership in the multisite fungicide market and supports sustainable crop yields and food security. The deal is expected to conclude in Q1 of FY24-25.

Venture Fund: A Partnership To Grow Regenerative Agriculture

Serra Ventures Partners with Grondex International To Establish A Food & Ag Tech Fund

Serra Ventures, LLC has formed a new partnership with Grondex International, B.V. to establish the Serra-Grondex Food & Ag Tech Fund II, LP. The partnership brings together the expertise of Grondex directors Joost Pennings and Peter Prins with the Serra Ventures managing partners Tim Hoerr, Dennis Beard, and Rob Schultz. This collaboration combines significant experience in agriculture, finance, and venture capital, particularly in the food and ag technology sectors. The partnership aims to leverage the global perspective and insights of Grondex, particularly in Europe's regenerative farming sector, to address challenges in the food and agriculture industry. Both firms are committed to fostering regenerative solutions in the agriculture and food tech sectors, focusing on startup growth that benefits the economy and the planet.

Report: AgTech Public Company Report Shows Mixed Performance

PitchBook Q4 2023 Agtech Public Sector Report: Mixed Performance

According to PitchBook's report on Agtech stocks, the sector had mixed results in the fourth quarter of 2023. While some companies experienced 7% growth, others saw a decline of up to 25%. Unfortunately, the sector underperformed compared to broader market indexes. Animal biotech stocks were the top performers, while indoor farming solutions lagged significantly behind. Elanco Animal Health was the best performer, while AgriFORCE was the worst. Interestingly, indoor farm operators faced challenges due to macroeconomic factors.

Read the complete report on Pitchbook, click here.

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